With Vietnamese carmaker VinFast eager to have a crack at the American market, I couldn’t help but notice how expensive its initial offerings will be. If you want a VF 8 that includes a battery, you’re looking at spending $57,000. Step up to the VF 9 with battery ownership included, and that figure jumps to $72,000. That’s a lot of money when you could choose an EV from any number of established brands.
Keen to find a larger audience, VinFast has announced two smaller models for the North American market that should carry lower price tags. Say hello to the VF 6 and VF 7. While this isn’t the first time we’ve seen these crossovers, it’s the first time we’ve seen them in America with production-like glass, updated amber reflectors and whatnot. With that in mind, let’s delve into the cars that aim to make VinFast a household name.
Upon first glance, it’s incredibly obvious that the VF 6 is gunning for the Hyundai Kona EV and Kia Niro EV. At 166.9 inches long with a 107.5-inch wheelbase, it’s just a little bit longer than the Kona EV with a slightly longer wheelbase than the bigger Niro EV. That’s promising stuff when it comes to interior room. However, the base VF 6 is a bit down on power compared to its Korean rivals. The entry-level Eco model will make 174 horsepower and 184 lb.-ft. of torque, which is not exactly groundbreaking stuff. However, you’ll be able to step up to the VF 6 Plus and get an output bump to 201 horsepower and 228 lb.-ft. of torque–fairly solid numbers for a subcompact crossover.
It’s a reasonably handsome crossover, too, with styling by Torino Design showing a dramatic mix of sharp creases and compound curves. While I’m not a huge fan of the lines going nowhere on the side of the VF 6, the sharp daytime running lights and availability of a rather loud orange color do their best to make up for this styling strangeness.
On the inside, you’ll likely notice that the VF 6 is missing a gauge cluster. However, rather than go full Tesla, VinFast has decided to use a heads-up display to replace a traditional digital dashboard. If you’re going to have one or the other, why not go for the sleek look of a HUD? Putting tech to the side, materials seem wholly appropriate for a subcompact crossover, with smart gold accents livening up a fairly standard mix of plastics and textiles. Overall, the VF 6 definitely piques my interest as entry-level EVs seem to not be a huge priority for America.
Moving up the range, the VF 7 sits squarely in the hot compact crossover segment. Instead of largely just competing with two vehicles, it competes with everything – Volkswagen ID.4, Toyota bZ4X, Hyundai Ioniq 5, Kia EV6, the list just goes on and on. Needless to say, the VF 7 better be good if it wants to keep up.
First signs are quite promising. The base front-wheel-drive model packs the same 201 horsepower and 228 lb.-ft. of torque as the uplevel VF 6, and the VF 7 Plus gets a boost to 349 horsepower and 368 lb.-ft. of torque courtesy of all-wheel-drive. Plus, the overall footprint seems right. At 178.9 inches long, it seems just right for the segment. Mind you, figures for battery size and estimated range haven’t been released yet, so a true test of the VF 7’s mettle is yet to come.
Unsurprisingly, the VF 7 also features styling by Torino Design, albeit with more conservative lines that tend to gel better than the VF 6’s strange surfacing. Overall, it’s a fantastic look that makes the bZ4X seem a bit fussy and the ID.4 seem a bit dowdy. It’s the curvaceous Italianate surfacing we all know and love, now applied to an electric crossover. Job well done, I reckon.
On the inside, the VF 7 gets a similar HUD treatment as the VF 6 but a larger 15.7-inch infotainment screen. From the faux-leather smattered about the cabin to the tightly-grained plastics on the dash and door cards, the interior of the VF 7 looks to be a cut above what some mass-market rivals are offering. It’s also heartening to see a bank of physical switches including a volume knob in the center console, a subtle acknowledgement that minimalism can go too far.
Like with the VF 8 and VF 9, VinFast plans to back the VF 6 and VF 7 with one of the strongest warranties in the car business. We’re talking about a ten-year 125,000-mile warranty, a properly bold statement for a new manufacturer to make. With serviceability front-of-mind for many EV consumers, such long coverage could offer a bit of relief.
Pricing for these new VinFast models hasn’t been announced yet, but expect to hear more when the VF 6 and VF 7 go on sale in 2023. Of course, VinFast still needs to start selling its larger models in America in the first place, which should happen in December if everything goes according to plan.
I live about 40 minutes away from where VinFast is planning to build their new plant in NC. I’m rooting for them. The vehicles seem good enough to appeal over some of the more boring EV offerings from legacy manufacturers. The battery leasing plan is interesting. The US manufacturing is exciting. And the warranty is stand-out.
Only Hyundai is doing more interesting mass-market EVs in America at the moment.
Interesting choice with the HUD-only dash. I don’t hate it in principle, especially compared to all these stupid unhooded tablets being used for gauge clusters lately, but I do wonder if it’s going to have the same problem with being unreadable in some lighting conditions. I know my limited experience with HUDs suggests it will be. I’ll reserve judgment for now, but I’m skeptical.
The warranty doesn’t do you a whole lot of good if the company isn’t still doing business in 10 years. I have a “10 year warranty” on the backpack I recently got from Amazon, but I highly doubt the company that made it will still be around in 10 years (not because there’s anything wrong with it, just that these alphabet soup companies on Amazon don’t seem built for the long haul). Luckily it was cheap enough that I don’t care too much, but these cars don’t seem to have enough price advantage to justify the risk. You have to _really_ want one of these to buy it over a more established brand.
The rear of the orange one looks like 4 cars stacked at the crusher.
Why are the side windows so small… I mean come on.
Because all of them are, from the side I see signature small EUV/CUV Eye lash extenders reaching to the back. and lets be honest here, this could be a bolt with body cladding and nobody would likely realize it, so it is going to be tough sales road to go down in the US for a vietnam made vehicle with Euro/US made pricing. I think the Bolt EUV is clocking in around $33K base, so 50 to 70 K for this is going to be tough.
You know, I started to write a comment about why I think VinFast is going to have a tough time in the US, but in the process I may have talked myself into thinking that they’re actually off to a good start.
I can only think of four new automakers on the American market that I’d consider successful: Tesla, Rivian, Polestar, and Lucid. All of them follow a similar formula: start out by making luxury EVs that do things differently from how they’ve been done before. VinFast seems to be doing that, with their lack of a traditional gauge cluster and their battery subscription scheme. I don’t know if those are things customers will actually want, but what do I know? I’d never have thought that putting everything on a floating tablet in the center of the dash would be popular, but look at Tesla. Maybe they’re onto something.
They’re also hedging their bets with a couple of more mass-market vehicles. That’s a tougher market, but one that they’ll eventually need to crack if they want to play with the big boys. Are they trying to do too much too fast? Maybe, but you could also argue that they’re wisely avoiding having all their eggs in one basket.
The warranty is a smart way of helping reassure early adopters that their purchasing decision is a safe one. Sure, it doesn’t mean the car won’t still break down a lot, nor does it guarantee that anyone will be around in ten years to honor that warranty, but what are they supposed to do about that? Every new automaker faces that problem, and it can only be addressed by just making good cars and being successful. There’s no shortcut, but an excellent warranty is a good start.
I still think they have an uphill battle, just like every other automaker. Rightly or wrongly, coming out of Vietnam won’t help them here in the US. Other new brands are either based here, or (Polestar) have an established brand whose equity they can borrow. But both Japan and South Korea were once developing nations in Asia trying to crack the American market, and look at them now. It can be done. We’ll just have to wait and see.
Even if it is an amazing vehicle – and it doesn’t look bad – the smart way to bet is that the company will fail to establish itself in the U.S. First they are entering a very crowded market space.
The next problem will be getting dealerships, and by extension parts and service. It takes deep pockets and time for a new entry into the market to establish itself in the U.S. Building infrastructure is expensive and there’s no good way around making the investment . Sure, there are theoretical shortcuts:
In the appliance industry at least one major foreign player decided that building a central warehouse of parts in the U.S. was too expensive. “Hell we can just air-freight parts into the country and it will still be cheaper than building a warehouse”. And…it was cheaper, but from the customer’s perspective, it simply didn’t work. It takes a day to diagnose; a day to place the parts order, a day to process the order, a day for packing/pickup, three days for travel time and customs; another day to do the repair and the owner picks up the next day. That assumes the maximum realistic efficiency. Reality is generally slower than the theory.
Then you always come fact-to-face with the fundamental question – why should I buy -this- particular car? It has to offer some advantage (usually price) or special feature that makes it distinctive. You can answer this question easily for most brands. Volvo: safety and durability; Lexus: reliability, and so forth.
Finally – that 10-year warranty? If the company leaves the market, well, learn how to whistle.
I wish them luck but don’t expect to ever see one.
Is Vinfast still requiring a subscription to the battery that is federally mandated to be warrantied for 100k miles or 8 years?
If so they can still get all they way fucked.
I’m gonna be That Guy and just say no to a Vietnamese car, full stop. Wouldn’t buy one from North Korea either.
So you’re comparing Vietnam to North Korea. Why exactly?
Vietnam vet, perhaps?
I’d be interested if the price was right. IIRC these use a lot of off the shelf components from major suppliers. Same recipe, different presentation. And VinFast has a track record of actually mass producing vehicles before. They may be new to America and EV’s, but from my understanding they do know how to weld and bolt a vehicle together on a production line.
My grandfather fought the Japanese, but didn’t hold it against them. He even felt bad when they had to shoot at some of them that refused to surrender when his ship was heading to Tokyo Bay for the signing. I guess that’s something like someone who gets cheated on once and blames all men/women while others see that it was just that particular person. Some people are just more advanced than others.
And that’s different, too – the Japanese started a war after all; all the Vietnamese wanted was to keep the French out of their country. US picking up France and UK’s colonial battles was a singularly bad policy.
Then I’d buy in your stead if they build something I’m interested in at a price low enough to allow for the open reliability question. Chinese, on the other hand, I wouldn’t because I don’t want to contribute to their economy any more than I already have to. South Korean I won’t buy not out of any racist crap, but because I think Hyundai/KIA makes junk and the long list of never ending recalls would agree.
Asian cultures think very long run.
They’re going to need to with this venture.
Gotta love the predictable comments. We need more manufacturers and i wouldnt but from a new manufacturer. The style lines are too out their i wish the new com0any would try something different. Its too expensive we need entry level EVs to it doesnt have a two cheek butt warmer. I hope it comes in something besides grey interior to that colour is too out there. It isnt available yet to why cant we drive it.
Our comments are more predictable than a 70s GM interior layout.
Downsized for the north american market.
Surely that’s the first time such a phrase has ever been used?
I don’t see anything to like in this. Front end: ugly. Side: meh. Rear: hideous. Interior: Tesla, only worse. Reliability: unknown. How it’s to drive: unknown. Resale: get outta here.
I guess they look fine, but can you imagine the catastrophically horrible resale value on these things? A Vietnamese electric car that nobody has ever heard of, with essentially zero reliability data for (likely) +/- $40k? The warranty is nice and all, but that’s not gonna be enough, especially considering that they have a roughly 50/50 chance of actually being around in ten years. Best of luck VinFast – you’re gonna fuckin need it.
Agreed but 10 year 125,000 miles? I bet the mileage gets there quicker. My concern would be like Tesla lifetime warranty our service center is at the North pole get it there we will fix it. But dont worry we do plan on opening one on Mars in 2024 Elon guarantees it. But GM is fixing Teslas if Vinfast hooks up with a stable partner no problem. After all Tesla has done well with no experience, poor build, no service repair in 49 states and a CEO who is known for stretching the truth a mite. Actually Tesla gets failing marks on every catagory.
It looks like they have managed to check mark lots of current styling trends/cliches. Frankly that’s a disappointment. It would have been great to see a new player come in with new ideas.
The interior in particular gives me too much of a ‘going to the office’ vibe.
Also please move past just quoting vehicle length. Not all of us live in some prairie suburb. Width matters (especially with the abandonment of parkable cars) to urban customers and urban customers are possibly more likely to buy an EV over ICE. Case in point, Hyundai’s otherwise very tempting to me Ioniq 5 will never grace my driveway, because it just won’t fit. One size smaller(narrower) folks – please!
Yeah, yeah, my wife also complains about excessive girth…
The Ioniq 5 catches a lot of people out, size wise. They assume it’s Golf sized but it’s easily the next class up. First time I clapped eyes on one out in the wild I was stunned how big it was.